Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Ever since I decided that Barrett Strong's original version of "Money" was vastly superior to the Beatles' cover, I've been a hardcore original versions supporter. And decades on, I still hold to the conviction that the original recordings of songs, particularly when they're made by the song's composers, are 99% of the time superior to the cover. So faced by this album by the executive pastor of creative arts at River Valley Church in Gant's Pass, Oregon, with its opening tracks "The Lion & The Lamb", "This Is Amazing Grace" and "Good Good Father", I was slow to give it a good listen. There are a few originals, including duets with Brandon Bee on "Freedom Comes" and Jason Squires, but even there, over-familiar phrases like "high and lifted up" and "praise you Lord of all" clog up Michael's original songs, while melodically they aren't particularly memorable. Now the production on these studio recordings is crisp and professional, though having three versions of the title track - one as part of a medley, an acoustic version and one sung in Italian - suggest the studio budget didn't stretch to making a proper 10 song album. No doubt there will be Bahn supporters in Oregon who've already purchased this set and been blessed by the passionate worshipper. But in truth, this is a mediocre release.
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